Wednesday, September 21, 2016

"Please keep your hands inside the car."

Had an interesting discussion the other day with a colleague and fellow freelancer. Actually, it wasn't a discussion -- people don't talk on the phone or otherwise anymore -- it was a series of texts via the wonky Facebook chat interface.

I was texting from my iPhone while high atop the Baldwin Hills overlook. And he was texting from the exact same seat and desk I had been occupying just one week earlier.

You can draw your own conclusions, but the discussion, as it were, was about the finicky nature of freelancing.

As my colleague pointed out, at one place you can be the hero who can "write like nobody else we have on staff." And the very next week you can find yourself working for another agency who, and this part I'll paraphrase, "writes shit like everybody else."

And so in the course of my 44 years circling the sun, I've developed a thick skin. A very, very thick skin, which like a camera, adds 10 lbs. to my appearance.

I also try to maintain an even keel about the work and the responses to the work. When there is high praise, and occasionally that happens, I'll blush a little and politely say thanks. I don't let it get to my head and start wondering if I should start wearing an ascot or an earring or some other affectation that  says, "look at me, I'm special."

Where do people even buy ascots?

I also remind myself there are a shit ton of better writers out there. I came across another freelancer while on and he had a wealth of great work that turned me 50 shades of green. He did a great campaign with NFL players for the United Way that's buried on the back pages of his portfolio.

That's how good he is.
I'd hire him in a heartbeat over me.
And that's why I'm not sharing his name.

Conversely, I don't get my Hanes 36-Inch Tagless No-Ride-Up Briefs with the Comfort Flex™ Waistband tied in a bunch when someone sets fire to one of my scripts. Or as one creative director put it so eloquently and with no small measure of disdain...

"This feels like something Goodby would have done in the mid-90's."


If memory serves me correct, Goodby Silverstein and Partners were enjoying the height of their success in the mid 1990's. I would think most agencies would be lucky to recreate work of that caliber. When did that become a pejorative?

What do I know?

I try not to let that get to me. Or as my colleague reminds me, it's the rollercoaster nature of the business.

Problem is, I see the kind of work that gets killed and the work that gets produced and am reminded of a different stomach-grinding amusement park ride and it's appropriate nickname -- the Vomitron.

Perhaps you're familiar with it.

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